Undertaking the Pacific Crest Trail isn’t just “doing a hike.” It’s often difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, occasionally dangerous and, above all, a very, very long haul.
The start of a new year seems like a good time to plan to enjoy our sweet spot of outdoor fun. Plus, you don’t want to wake up one day 20 years from now and wonder why you never hiked Yosemite, rafted a Class IV stretch of river or reeled in a king salmon, do you?
When she set out to hike 200 miles of the John Muir Trail, Anne Arthur, 57, wasn’t aiming to make a statement. She just wanted to go on a hike, the kind she and her husband had planned to do. “We’d been trying to get back to backpacking,” she says of her hiking plans with her husband of 22 years, Jeff. “It was an activity in which we both felt alive; it was something that we shared.” But that was before Jeff, 58, died unexpectedly last November. And before Anne was forced to think about her life and her dreams in a new light.
Nature is disappearing, and not just where we notice it. Certainly, the natural world is going under the bulldozer at a frightening rate, from the Brazilian rain forest to North Natomas. But that’s not all that concerns Richard Louv.
What worries the journalist and author is that nature is disappearing from inside us. People are spending less and less time in natural settings and, he says, are losing touch with nature in many different ways.
Angel Island looms large in the geography of the Bay Area, but it also occupies a special place in time.
It’s been revered by early residents, such as the Coast Miwok tribes, and used by various branches of the U.S. military for nearly 100 years. It was the first place many Asian immigrants touched ground upon arrival in America.
If the goal is to get to the top of a granite tower such as 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite and get a workout doing it, there are good trails to the top. Pulling oneself up a sheer rock face seems, well, inefficient. Not to mention difficult. And dangerous. But as I discover during my first day of rock climbing, the sport has an advantage that outweighs all these disadvantages: It is a thrill.
The great outdoors is so great, in large part, because we get away from all the concerns and pressures that add so much stress to our civilized lives. So saying that manners matter in our outdoor activities – observing the proper “outdoor etiquette” – seems almost oxymoronic.
After all, isn’t going into the wild a chance to let loose our inner wildness? Well, yes and no.
Not everyone who enjoys winter sports yearns to be traveling at insanely high speeds.
While the downhill thrill lures many to the slopes, others are answering a more laid-back call: Come to the snow, and shoe.
Boarding and skiing are great fun, but so is the winter-sports family’s more pedestrian cousin: snowshoeing.
Anyone who’s spent any time in San Francisco is familiar with the city’s most famous hills: Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill and Twin Peaks.
But this vertically-oriented city also has a number of lesser-known hills, topped by parks or municipal open spaces, that are well worth the time – and the physical energy – they take to explore.
Rising from the Central Valley an hour to the southwest of Sacramento, Mount Diablo is a treasure hidden in plain sight. Though the 81,000-acre natural playground draws a million visitors a year, the state and regional parklands surrounding the peak still feel wild and remote, and this is Diablo’s time of year.
You don’t have to play golf, or be retired, to have fun in Palm Springs. If you play your cards right, you can finish a week in Palm Springs in dire need of a vacation. If you’re an athletic thrill-seeker of any age, you can beat yourself up here, but good. Fortunately, you can also pamper yourself within an inch of heaven. By alternating the two – activity and passivity, the hard and the soft, the challenging and the relaxing – one can theoretically find a blissful middle ground of total physical satisfaction.